29 Mar 2016

City Guide | Discovering Independent Leeds, with Converse

In collaboration with Converse, and their latest Chuck II collection, we spent 12 hours exploring Leeds, and discovering what unique shops, restaurants, bars, and sights one of the UK's most vibrant cities has to offer.

Leeds has been on our mind for some time. Everyone’s been talking about the creative goings-on in the city and, aside from a couple of quick visits, neither of us have really explored the place to its fullest.

When we visit it a city, the angle is generally on the independent offerings. Leeds was no different: we try to hit those places that are unique to the city, and although we worked the pavement hard, we left a lot undiscovered.

To get things started, coffee and lots of it. Laynes Espresso is a neat little place, tucked alongside the station. Here, we planned the day and waited for the sun to break through the fog. By coincidence, Laynes is just around the corner from Bundobust - the restaurant we planned to end the day in. A vegetarian Indian, they serve up the sort of street food inspired grub that’s become the norm in London - a host of small dishes, delicately filled with a mix of lightly and heavily spiced rice, cheese, yogurt, and lots of other ingredients I just couldn’t put my finger on. Damn delicious.

Wearing - ASOS Coat + Shirt | Reigning Champ Sweatshirt | Uniqlo Down Vest | Albam Jeans | Chuck II c/o Converse | Form & Thread Socks | Watch c/o Paul Smith

We were here to explore the city with Converse, to see how much we could cover in around 12 hours. Converse have just launched a new set of colours in the Chuck II, following its launch in July, and we were really excited to collaborate with them on a project like this; one that celebrates the creativity, style, and innovation inherent in a fast changing city. An update on the classic All Stars, the II have a new non-slip tongue and the Lunarlon innersole from Nike, making these a much more functional and comfortable trainer.

The streets of Leeds are a photographer's dream. A fascinating warren of Victorian creation, the city blends its distant past with the steel, glass, and regimented brickwork synonymous with modern design. There are angles a-plenty here and, to the south of the station, the regenerated Granary Wharf area seems to have been redesigned with Instagram in mind.

Then there's the beautiful curves and high-ceilings of the Corn Exchange, as well as the intricate archways and glass roof of the Victorian Quarter.

In the Corn Exchange we stumbled across the Little Leeds Beer House. A shop where you can sit, drink, and ogle at the fantastic beer bottles from around the world. You’d struggle to match their selection anywhere else, particularly of Yorkshire ales. Well, aside from Tall Boys Beer Market in the Thornton Arcade - a classic beer and bread shop; those northerners definitely know what’s important in life!

Beneath the beer house, Primo's is a firm favourite with the locals. This American-style hotdog bar piles the extras so high, we risked redecorating our Converse with spilt ‘slaw and bacon.

Just along from Tall Boys will came across Village. A small, but well packed magazine and book store, with every bases covered in terms of subject; art, design, fashion, illustration, culture... It was nice to spot a few of our favourite reads on the shelves.

By early afternoon, there was a distinct end-of-the-week vibe going on. We took a walk up to ShuffleDog, just on the edge of the city centre. It’s a BrewDog bar, so not exactly specific to Leeds; but, with a full-on games room, featuring a bank of old-style arcade shoot-em’ ups, and the 15 foot long shuffleboard tables. How you play shuffleboard, I’ve no idea. I’d love to go back when a game’s on and see what the deal is.

Of course, this wouldn’t be Buckets guide without some menswear. The shelves in Hip Store are like a dream of a giant walk-in wardrobe; Engineered Garments, Barbour, Universal Works, Norse Projects, Converse, plus many harder to find labels - with excellent customer service and chat. Denham’s store is just the same - albeit smaller. With every shade of denim you could ask for lining the walls, alongside bottles of their very own sake, coffee bar and a corner devoted entirely to Converse.

As the day wound down, we fuelled up on a final coffee at social enterprise cafe, Cielo, before heading back across the city to visit Northern Monk: a brewery and tap-room, that was on our ‘must visit’ list. We looked out for street art and local graffiti along the way too.

Northern Monk sits on the edge of another regenerated part of town. A square tower of beer-filled excellence, you can watch the brewers in action on the ground floor or climb up to the chilled-out minimalist tap room for a cold one. By the time we headed home, it felt like a pretty full day had been done, yet there was still a lot we didn’t tick off. In Bundobust we bumped into a Twitter contact who threw out a few more ace sounding places that we hadn’t even considered.

There’s clearly a lot more on offer in Leeds than 12 hours will allow; and, being only a couple of hours from London, we’ll definitely be back. The Converse Chuck II proved to be the perfect partner for a day exploring the city. Where will yours take you next?

Thanks for reading,
Mat + Nik.
This City Guide has been created in collaboration with Converse. Thank you for taking the time to support the projects + businesses that make this blog happen.


  1. Lovely city feature as always! I love all the spots you got to check out and photograph. What camera did you use for these, the Lumix or something else? And how do the Chucks II feel different compared to the original? :P

    Kosta // Cool Gear Cavalier

  2. Leeds sounds so lovely! And that pink wall! Love it.

  3. Leeds looks awesome! Those are cool kicks, I haven't worn my Chucks in ages!

  4. Your city guides always getting me wanting to travel! Great photos as always guys. Also really enjoying the all-black Converse.

  5. Great city guide, and I'm loving all the beautiful photos! It looks like this place has so many interesting places to explore!


  6. Caroline08:47



  7. We try to find the places that don't tend to get as much coverage, but are still great places. So these were taken with the Lumix Gx7 dslr. They're actually a little low in clarity as I edited them a little differently, which looking at them now was a mistake! They are smaller fitting I'd say, but superior in comfort. Very comfy on the footbed.

  8. All about the salmon-y pink wall! Thanks Gabi.

  9. The glass roof of the Victorian Quarter looks spectacular and the Hip store seems a real winner. Nice guide guys, if this is only scraping the surface of Leeds, it's going straight on my list.


  10. Is a really cool place, but I guess doesn't get many tourists due to it being out the way.

  11. Thanks man, I love hearing that. They take ages to put together so we appreciate any feedback. Are you still coming to the UK?

  12. We can only do that, it would be hard to say it's a definitive guide to Leeds, without properly studying it for days. I think we did a really good job though, and ended on a high in a local brewery.

  13. Thanks Valerie. I'm glad you're enjoying out guides, even if it just acts as a nice read, cos I know it would be a push to visit! But one day maybe

  14. Yes, I am! Still interested in meeting up?

  15. You guys always nail these guides... Definitely need to visit Leeds and I might actually have to pick up a pair of cons for skateboarding now they have the lunarlon in sole.

    James | www.getyourbronon.com

  16. Thanks mate! You found this one late, but glad you did. Leeds is boss.


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